Northern Wilds Magazine
Natalie Jackson and Lucas Will went tiny when building their dream house. | LUCAS WILL
Along the Shore

Tiny home offers freedom

WashburnI’ve known a lot of homes, albeit temporary ones. During one stretch, I moved eight times in seven years: truck beds, studio apartments, tents, cabins, canoes and one-bedroom apartments. All of these places have been a home to me in the same way my childhood home was, despite their wildly different characteristics.

A home is more than just somewhere to lay my head at night and it’s even more than where my heart is. Home provides comfort, security, freedom; a sanctuary where I can recharge and stay organized. It’s where I dream of adventures amidst a comfortable nights sleep.

Years of home sampling, renting and borrowing presented a list of gained insight into what I wanted and didn’t want in my own, permanent home. And when I met my partner, Natalie, we combined our knowledge and desires.

When building a tiny house, everything must be intentional and multi-functional. | LUCAS WILL

We ended up with a sailboat. It was mobile (if only by water), compact, fairly simple, functional and attractive. It served our needs, some desires and supplied us with ample room to reach a few dreams.This served as our testing ground.

We couldn’t get away from the mobility aspect. At our stage in life, we know what we want in a home for ourselves and we are ready for our own, we just don’t know where. So we settled on building a tiny home on a 24-foot trailer.

One of the main reasons we decided to build small rested in our comfort with taking on the construction ourselves, figuring that building a smaller version of a “real” house must be more easily achievable (ha!). And we didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do it for us. Even though we both work full time, we figured we had more time than money.

Given that we were committing to living in such a small (some might say restricted) area, space was at a premium. Everything in the house needed to be intentional and functional; slightly higher countertops to serve my lengthy frame, dog-friendly steps, and a comfortable built-in couch with storage underneath. Creating our own layout and design features that worked specifically for us was really important, so purchasing a pre-built one wasn’t an option we considered.

To a certain degree, we’ve stumbled through every phase of our build. Learning as we go, usually just in time for the next phase (and occasionally just afterwards) has been commonplace for us. While we recognize, and often agonize over, the significance of order of operations, spontaneity and planning routinely mingle in a mutual and sometimes desperate dance; a dance that has taught us a lot.

I didn’t identify as a construction worker, carpenter, wood worker, framer, or any other trade skilled-person before starting. After 18 months and 80 percent of a house later, I still don’t. But despite moments of frustration, we both have learned a lot and find moments to soak in that satisfaction and what it might lead to.

We continue to be motivated by our achievement thus far and our desired outcomes. Since moving onto our sailboat three years ago, we regularly purge our un-needed possessions, giving us less to worry about and keep track of. While our tiny house does have some complex systems (solar power, AC and DC wiring, cold climate plumbing), the simplicity and scale of what we have to maintain provides a freedom previously un-experienced.

When I left the North Shore, the realization that I’d spent more than $18,000 in rent and utilities over three years motivated me to find a way to invest in myself instead of giving my money to others. As Natalie and I got more comfortable and energized with the idea of “going tiny,” it became a component of our model to become both debt free and independent. To do this, we needed to spend money; an investment into us upfront.

Natalie Jackson and Lucas Will went tiny when building their dream house. | LUCAS WILL

As we near completion of our new tiny house, it will have cost us slightly more to create a home with all of the same creature comforts you find in your own home. Yes, ours sits on three, 5,000 pound axles, and requires a place to park it, but we are at ease with this challenge. The opportunity to easily winterize (drain the freshwater tank) and park it somewhere safe whenever tempted by another one of life’s adventures always sits in our back pocket.

Building and living tiny hasn’t been about proving we could do it. More so, about simplifying the clutter in our lives. We didn’t want possessions, obligations and others’ expectations to drive our lives anymore. Our quality of life is too important. Our own expectations are that our tiny house will open up opportunities that we might never have had otherwise.

Going tiny might seem like putting all of our eggs into one, uncomfortable basket. But not for our lifestyle; we’ve always got our canoe and tent. Big, tiny, floating, or on a foundation, home is what you make it.Lucas Will

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